Batteries Carried Into Competitions

There are a few new questions that have been posted in the Q+A regarding batteries. Go to the forums for the specific questions, but the answers are below. That this means is that if you are going to carry in batteries -

  1. if they are assembled (connectors added) - then they count as part of your withholding allowance

  2. if they are not assembled, they are COTS items and **do not count against your withholding allowance. **

1: Spare batteries, in their unmodified form (i.e. WITHOUT connectors or battery leads installed) would be considered COTS items. COTS items may be brought to the competition events in unlimited quantities, under Rule <R35>. Batteries that have leads and connectors attached would be MECHANISMS and FABRICATED ITEMS, and would fall under the corresponding constraints. Therefore:
a : yes, this is a FABRICATED ITEM
b : if it is hand-carried to an event, then it must be factored into the WITHHOLDING ALLOWANCE

2: For the purposes of the FIRST Robotics Competition, just cycling a battery through charge/discharge cycles will not be considered a modification of the battery. Therefore, it may still be considered a COTS item (assuming it has not been assembled into a MECHANISM as described above).

3: For the purposes of the FIRST Robotics Competition, if the battery has been assembled into a MECHANISM for use during the build season that is later disassembled into the original COMPONENTS, then the battery may still be considered a COTS item.

I should go back to school for a law degree so that I can have a shot at being on the GDC.

just wow…there are rules and then there is stuff like this. Its not like you could possibly gain some advantage coming in with their batteries wired up. It just seems like the GDC is nit-picking what counts as a “Fabricated Item”, they should have just set a smaller weight allowance if that is what they really wanted to accomplish…

So that means competitive teams who bring a bunch (8-10) of extra batteries must remove all the leads and reattach them at the competition? Only the competitive teams with the cash to send the extra batteries via a crate are not hindered by this ruling.

Sounds like an exception could have been made just for batteries and the leads attached to them…

As I posted over in the Withholding Allowance thread, I think this is ridiculous.

What I find the most bizarre is that if a battery with leads is a fabricated item then every team that carried more than 1 assembled battery into an event last year or in '07 was illegal.

The definitions of Fabricated Item, Replacement Parts, Spare Parts, and Upgrade Parts are all word-for-word identical between the 3 manuals. Therefore if an assembled spare battery counts against this year’s Withholding Allowance it should have count against the 25 lb limit specified in the previous two years.

Also, any teams that shipped these batteries in 2008 or 2009, but left the leads from previous years was/is in violation of rule <R27>.

Vikesrock is right. Even if batteries with leads are in a crate they are illegal. Good catch. Why is it an issue this year if it has been the same for the past 2? I guess it’s a common sense thing. Something that didn’t really need to be lawyered.

Is this a potential safety issue? Team’s rushing on practice day to reattach leads to multiple batteries?

What I am not understanding about this ruling is making an assembled battery count towards your withholding allowance is something a team can fairly easily overcome.

Bring in wire and anderson connectors/crimps and assemble your batteries thursday morning…that is a pretty simple job for almost anyone on the team to do. Why force us to go through tons of wire and connectors for the simple task of carrying the batteries through a door into the competition?

Utterly ridiculous. There’s nothing else to be said about it.

Let’s hope this is brought to someone higher up and a bit of sanity and common sense is applied to the issue.

Okay so, I am going to get to the competition, take the connectors off the battery; when I get through the door, I will put them back on. It’s only 2 bolts right? I am lost of words.

… Maybe, FIRST should have someone in the pit who is willing to put in those extra 5 mins to put the batteries together (heck, maybe there should be someone who is going to put together all the batteries for all teams attending the regional). I don’t know about any other teams; but those 5 minutes me and my kids are going to waste on the batteries are very valuable to us on Thursday when we get to the regional.

I just hope they have enough spares to cover the teams who mis-wire their battery in the rush and blow out their Jaguars, Victors, Spikes, Analog Breakouts, etc…

I just don’t see the point. There are tons of places where teams are on the honor code, why not just trust that teams haven’t modified the batteries, and make them an exception to the withholding allowance. This produces tons of extra work for no foreseeable benefit or purpose.

And we get to do this at every competition…

Simple answer: the GDC is committing acts of Lunacy with the way THEY’RE lawyering the rules this year.

This is a very bad joke , right?

My last post was a bad joke. It remains to be seen if the whole battery-without-leads-or-its-not-COTS thing is a bad joke.

This may be the dumbest ruling in GDC history!

Depending on how you look at it, your leads with terminals crimped to the end could be considered a fabricated part, so you would need to not have that on there, but then if you just cut your terminals off, you have modified that lead into a non off the shelf state, so its still fabricated.

Actually if you want to further extend this idea, if your bringing in nuts and bolts, they would need to be separated, no nuts threaded onto bolts, unless you bought them that way.

To me, it sounds like this rule is being enforced a bit too harshly when it forces teams to start doing things like this.

HOWEVER, if you read the rule, and take its literal meaning, then it looks like we have been breaking the rules for a few years now, without realizing it. It is there in black and white, and has been for a few years now. If this is not changed before competition, you could take the leads off your batteries, then at that point the only fabricated parts are the leads for the batteries (you crimped ends on them) so only those would count in the weight, Rather than the whole battery. Also never hurts to check out the connections on your old batteries to make sure they are still good, etc (gotta look on the bright side sometimes)

I was thinking the same thing…I know we’ve had trouble with the terminals not being fully tightened, and coming loose.

We really have to get that big crimper, and do it right. This might be the excuse we needed.

I just can’t see any good reason for the GDC to all of a sudden start making calls that are SUBSTANTIALLY different than what has been the norm for many years. Teams bring batteries with anderson connectors attached. Thats the way it’s always been. Why change it? Even all the bumper nonsense. If you ask me, the rules on the bumpers, as originally written in the book were not intended to be substantially different from last year. People asked questions to clarify, and the GDC goes and basically changed everything. Its silly.

It’s more than just silly - it’s absolutely ridiculous. You can’t tell me that having every team remove and replace battery leads at every competition was the intent of this rule. As I stated in a previous post in another thread, the GDC is doing exactly what they’ve told us not to do - lawyer the rules instead of judging their intent. They seem to have lost touch with what the competition is about. FIRST is going to start losing members if they continue down this path. What is inpirational about removing and replacing battery leads at every competition just to comply with some asinine ruling. I hope nobody wrote year or battery numbers on their battery - that would mean that they are now modified and no longer COTS parts. If you try to remove the marker, you might scratch the surface so it will no longer be a COTS part. Unbelievable.

Come on guys and gals. The GDC has ruled that batteries (alone) don’t count against the withholding allowance. If you shipped your batteries and cables in the crate you have to assemble them in the pit, and if you didn’t you still have to assemble them in the pit. There isn’t anything to complain about on this front. It is a good idea to go over all those connections anyway, there are a lot of loose battery connections at competitions.

In my opinion, a lot of these rules adjustments result from pressing the GDC to clarify, and then clarify some more, instead of just letting common sense guide the interpretation of the rules. I wouldn’t accuse the GDC of lawyering. It would appear that teams force them into corners with the constant challenges, and many of the responses are guided by the need to avoid the next corner.

The only rub here is that the unplanned impact of the weight of the cables on the withholding allowance is unfortunate. If you are impacted by this, you can solve the problem with COTS battery cables, they are available from AndyMark. You can also have a team that is way under the allowance bring the battery cables in for you. We would certainly do it for you, and we are way under our allowance because we shipped our entire robot, battery set, and cables in the crate. No doubt someone will worry about the legality of teams helping each other in this manner, and will ask the GDC about it. More power to you…

The most amusing thing about all of this is the fact that batteries and cables don’t count towards the weight of the robot!

Eugene